February 10th, 2017: Why Americans should get three weeks of vacation…


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When we were flying from Aruba to Curacao at the beginning of our vacation, I was eavesdropping on two Dutch women who were sitting behind us. They had had a week on Aruba and were rejoicing over the fact that they were going to have two more weeks on Curacao. Admittedly, I was jealous. Stinkend jaloers. Maybe I should have stayed in Europe after all…

I may need to remind Americans here that Europeans have 6-8 weeks of vacation. We, on the other hand, have one, on average, two, if we’re lucky…

Thus after having spent not even a week in the Caribbean, we’re packing our bags again.

Truth is: Jon and I have felt very burned out. Our jobs are hectic and stressful and the election and its aftermath have made us flip out and feel exhausted.

Our intention was to completely disengage but with all the drama that was happening and the need to connect with loved ones, we couldn’t avoid seeing what was happening in the news. We stole an hour here and there, reading on the beach, or having a nice meal but the truth is, this very last day, when we’re packing again, we have finally begun to relax and disengage. One half day of total bliss.

A wise person once told me: you really need three weeks of vacation. One to stop thinking about work, the second week to relax and well, the third week, you’ll start to think about work again. In essence, the middle week is the one of total limbo and oblivion and that’s the week where all the healing and restoring is done.

We do this to ourselves but I also feel we have no choice. Staying financially afloat, we have to stay in the rat race, in order not to fall behind. 43% of Americans have already fallen behind and are afraid to end up in poverty. An alarming and growing rate of UC Berkeley students experience “food insecurity,” a nice little euphemism for being hungry because your books, fees and rent were so high that you can’t afford to buy food…

Obviously, we haven’t fallen off that cliff yet but the fact that we may be seen as upper middle class doesn’t do justice to our sense that we really don’t feel that way at all… and… not having adequate vacation to get away from it all just adds to the situational stress we’re in.

Our families are microcosms of where were are as a nation, and truly, our situation is part and parcel of the America we’re becoming: not so much a shining city on a hill but an empire in decline on its way to becoming a North American banana republic. While Canada becomes more like Europe, we join the nations south of our border. It’s something like this, a picture I shot on our last night in Curacao:

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